SDAIA aims to put Saudi in global top 10 for data and AI

SDAIA aims to put Saudi in global top 10 for data and AI
Saudi Arabia's COVID-19 contact tracing app Tawakkalna was built in three weeks. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 24 September 2021

SDAIA aims to put Saudi in global top 10 for data and AI

SDAIA aims to put Saudi in global top 10 for data and AI
  • Digitization is not a luxury, minister says
  • Kingdom is training 25,000 Saudis youth in digital skills

RIYADH: The Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) plans to position Saudi Arabia as one of the top 10 countries in data and AI, and is training 25,000 data and AI specialists, according to Mishari Almishari, the head of the authority’s strategy office.

Speaking at the Saudi Arabia CIO summit held earlier this month in partnership with International Data Corporation (IDC), the aim is to attract SR20 billion ($5.3 billion) of investments into data and artificial intelligence, said Almishari.

“Our role is enabling digitalization. I don’t think it’s a luxury; it’s a key and an answer to many challenges,” he said.

The future will be challenging and “the key element is readiness, readiness and readiness,” he said.

SDAIA contributed to containing the pandemic with the launch of Tawakkalna, a smartphone application that allows the government to trace people infected with COVID-19, Almishari said.

It took only three weeks to develop as the groundwork in digital transformation had already been laid before the pandemic. Today the application has more than 22 million users and more than 75 services, said Almishari.

The CIO summit follows a number of initiatives taken by SDAIA, including the global AI summit held last year and August’s LAUNCH event, where it was agreed with 10 global technology companies to establish academies to train the Saudi youth.

Other speakers at the event included Richard Heitmann, vice president automation at IBM, who said those organizations which started earlier with AI technology did not suffer as much during the pandemic.

Fawaz Al-Harbi, deputy chairman of the Saudi Cloud Computing Association, highlighted the importance of cloud technology in terms of flexibility, innovation support and cost reduction.

“We were able to witness how important the cloud is, as many organizations would have suffered in dealing with the changes brought about by the pandemic” if it were not for the cloud, he said.

Business leaders are making fundamental changes in terms of operations, among these is to connect systems across the complex hybrid cloud environment, IBM’s Heitmann said.

Khasim Anwar, from Samba Financial Group, pointed out that this approach is not always possible in Saudi Arabia. For example, the financial sector is one of many that are not permitted to use hybrid clouds.

SDAIA is hoping to host the second global AI summit before the end of 2021, said SAAIA strategy consultant Areej Alamri. Final arrangements are being made and, unlike last year which was a virtual event, “this year it will be hybrid where some people will attend in person, and others will attend online,” she said.


Tadawul aims to offer incentives for tech startup firms: Bloomberg

Tadawul aims to offer incentives for tech startup firms: Bloomberg
Updated 14 sec ago

Tadawul aims to offer incentives for tech startup firms: Bloomberg

Tadawul aims to offer incentives for tech startup firms: Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange is discussing introducing incentives for tech startups backed by venture capital investors and technology firms, Bloomberg reported citing people familiar with the matter.

The stock exchange’s smaller market, Nomu, is where the small tech firms are expected to raise capital.

Currently, Tadawul doesn’t provide incentives to list on Nomu, but it could offer regulatory waivers for tech startups to speed up their listing, according to Bloomberg.

In the UAE, tech-startups received considerable financing solutions.

In interviews with CNBC Arabia, Ammar Al Malik said that facilities received by tech startups in Dubai Internet City reached AED1.4 billion ($380 million) while Jida Itani, COO of Abu Dhabi-based Hub71, stated that the firm provided over $260 million to startup companies.

Having the diversification of the economy as its target, the Kingdom aims at attracting tech investments as efforts to create more jobs in the labor market gain pace.


Islamic Development Bank announces its final issuances

Islamic Development Bank announces its final issuances
Updated 42 min 59 sec ago

Islamic Development Bank announces its final issuances

Islamic Development Bank announces its final issuances

RIYADH: The Islamic Development Bank of Saudi Arabia has announced the price of its second and final issuances as part of its plan to mobilize financial resources.

The Saudi Press Agency reported the final price of issuance instruments by the bank was SR6.3 billion ($1.7 billion), due to five years of annual returns by 1.435 percent, as a part of the bank medium-term instruments program of SR93.7 billion ($25 billion).

The President of the Islamic Development Bank, Muhammed Sulaiman Al-Jassar, said he wanted to "thank investors" for trusting the institution during the recovery from the pandemic.


Private equity giants Blackrock and Blackstone will attend FII5: CEO

Private equity giants Blackrock and Blackstone will attend FII5: CEO
Updated 46 min 30 sec ago

Private equity giants Blackrock and Blackstone will attend FII5: CEO

Private equity giants Blackrock and Blackstone will attend FII5: CEO

Blackrock and Blackstone, two of the world’s leading private investment management companies, will be attending the fifth anniversary of the Future Investment Initiative (FII), the foundation’s chief executive officer said in a press conference on Thursday.

Richard Attias, IFF’s CEO, also added that Africa will occupy a big place in the event, with presidents of Rwanda and Gabon attending, as well as several African speakers and leaders.

The head of the organization indicated that out of the 5200 participants registered for FII5, 70 percent are from Europe and North America.

Chinese attendees will be small in number because of the 3-week mandatory quarantine, but about 50 speakers from the country will be contributing, he added.


Goldman Sachs, Freshfields working on possible Porsche IPO: Manager magazin

Goldman Sachs, Freshfields working on possible Porsche IPO: Manager magazin
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Updated 21 October 2021

Goldman Sachs, Freshfields working on possible Porsche IPO: Manager magazin

Goldman Sachs, Freshfields working on possible Porsche IPO: Manager magazin
  • Goldman and Freshfields both declined to comment.

 Investment bank Goldman Sachs and law firm Freshfields are among advisors working on a possible listing of Volkswagen's luxury unit Porsche AG, manager magazin reported on Thursday, without saying where it obtained the information.


Goldman and Freshfields both declined to comment. Volkswagen had no immediate comment.

People familiar with the matter had told Reuters in May that the Porsche and Piech families, who control largest shareholder Porsche SE, are prepared to take a direct stake in Porsche AG should the luxury carmaker be separately listed.


Asked about the idea of a Porsche listing, talk of which has surfaced regularly in recent years, Volkswagen Chief Executive Herbert Diess in July said that while the company continued to review its set-up its battery ramp-up was the priority. 


Oil hits multi-year high above $86, then pulls back

Oil hits multi-year high above $86, then pulls back
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 21 October 2021

Oil hits multi-year high above $86, then pulls back

Oil hits multi-year high above $86, then pulls back
  • The price of Brent has risen over 60 percent this year

Oil hit a three-year high above $86 a barrel on Thursday driven by tight supply and a global energy crunch, although prices eased as some investors took profits on signs the rally is looking overstretched.


Helping to drive the latest gain, a supply report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration on Wednesday showed crude and fuel inventories tightened, with crude inventories at the Cushing storage hub falling to a three-year low.

Brent crude rose as high as $86.10, the highest since October 2018, but by 1155 GMT was down 92 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $84.90. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude fell 74 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $82.68.


"Traders who had set $86 as their selling threshold took the opportunity to already pocket some profit," said Louise Dickson of Rystad Energy. "Oil prices took a dive as a result."


The price of Brent has risen over 60 percent this year, supported by a slow ramp-up in supply by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, and a global coal and gas crunch which has driven a switch to oil for power generation.


Oil also came under pressure from a drop in coal and natural gas prices. In China, coal fell 11 percent on Thursday, extending losses this week since Beijing signalled it might intervene to cool the market.


"With coal and gas prices easing and with the relative strength index technical indicators still in overbought territory, the odds of a sharp, but material fall in oil prices are rising," said Jeffrey Halley, analyst at brokerage OANDA.


Even so, some analysts are calling for oil to rally even more as OPEC+ is likely to stick to its plan for gradual output increases while demand is expected to reach pre-pandemic levels.


Rystad said the outlook was bullish for the rest of the year and Giovanni Staunovo of Swiss bank UBS said in a report he expected Brent to trade at $90 in December and March.